Arts & Culture Patron Profile: Judge Joy Malek Oldfield

Photo of Judge Joy Malek Oldfield

Tell us a little bit about yourself:
My name is Joy Malek Oldfield.  I am one of the judges in the General Division of the Summit County Common Pleas Court.  I handle felony criminal matters and civil disputes. I also run the Turning Point Program – a recovery program for felony offenders.  I live in Akron, about two miles from my ex-husband, and we co-parent our three daughters.  I teach as an adjunct professor at the University of Akron School of Law.  

I have a love of arts and culture, and music particularly.  I am trying to pass that along to my daughters.

What is your earliest memory of participating in arts and culture?
When I was in fifth grade, I auditioned for my class play/musical.  I think it was called “We All Are a Part of It.”  I got the lead narrator type role and I was sooo excited.  I grew up as one of five kids in a family with one car at the time, so my mom couldn’t get me to school early enough for the practices.  My music teacher agreed to pick me up every morning before school. I just loved the experience and it truly began my love of arts and culture.

I performed in a number of musicals and plays since then, as a young adult in high school, college and even law school at community theatres.  I absolutely fell in love with musical theatre and still have a passion for it to this day.

Why do arts and culture matter to you?
Arts and culture have such a powerful role in the development of young minds.  As the mother of three children, and as someone who sees every day in court the adult effects of a troubled youth, I want society to realize and embrace the impact of music and arts on our young people  Arts help people develop confidence, enhance and inspire their own creativity, become better learners and more. 

Arts and culture also provide such a powerful connection between human beings who share the experience; and, help to enhance our awareness of social issues.  

Have you seen an example of how arts and culture have positively impacted your community? Can you describe it?
I am the Presiding Judge of Turning Point – a program that provides court supervision and drug/alcohol treatment to individuals charged with a felony who are suffering from the disease of addiction.  We routinely display photographs of our participants’ mugshots next to their pictures taken at graduation, after they have accomplished a period of long-term sobriety.  The difference in these visual images is astounding and makes a huge impact on the viewer.  For someone struggling with his own recovery, it inspires him to be a success story.  For someone supporting someone in recovery, it gives them hope.  In fact, we hired Shane Wynn to do a compilation of those success stories in professional photography form and it beautiful.

We also recently set to music a slide show of inspiring recovery quotes with before and after images of successful participants.  This five-minute video received over 4000 views on Facebook, with multiple comments and shares.  People genuinely felt the impact of recovery from watching this video.

A final example is the Cincinnati Opera production called Blind Injustice.  It is a collaboration with the Ohio Innocence Project and a Young Professional Choral Group and tells the story of six individuals who were wrongfully imprisoned and later exonerated.  It is a moving performance that is perfectly captured in this art form.  

What artist, cultural organization or experience do you wish more people knew about in Summit County?
Every year, Torchbearers hosts an Art Against Addiction silent art auction.  The event raises funds to combat the opiate epidemic and benefit local artists. At last year’s auction, I purchased a poem written by someone with four months of sobriety.  That poem inspired me in the work I do at the Court. I’ve had it framed and it’s a reminder of the talents that are hidden by the disease of addiction; and, that can flourish in recovery. 

What is your favorite spot to shop local?
I absolutely love Farmers Rail.  Speaking of addiction, it’s a problem I have.

What is your favorite view in Summit County?
I love driving over the bridge and seeing the skyline view of downtown Akron.  I love our city. 

Who is a patron or supporter of arts and culture in Summit County who you admire?
I love Shane Wynn and Josh Gippin.  So much. They are such creative artists and their latest project “Where the Wynns take you” makes me love them, and also makes me feel inadequate in so many ways as a parent.  Haha.  I love how they teach their children to be independent and free and to explore their world through different art forms.

I also absolutely adore Mark Smucker, who by day is the CEO of the J.M. Smucker Company, but also has an intense passion for music, and DJ’s house music regularly as DJ Mind.E.  I love that the arts allows him to express himself in that manner even though his main job is in the business world. His mixes are super cool and can be found at

These local artists make me yearn to audition for a community theatre production like I used to enjoy when I was younger.  Stay tuned. Who knows?!